Bid to buy US super-computer, jet engines appears doomed

PUBLISHED : Monday, 25 January, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 25 January, 1993, 12:00am

CHINA'S controversial bid to buy an American super-computer and advanced jet engines appears doomed at least for now after Mr George Bush failed to approve the sales before leaving the presidential office last week.

Mr Bush's departure means a decision on the sales now rests with the new President Mr Bill Clinton who has sharply criticised his predecessor's lenient policy towards Beijing.

The new Secretary of State, Mr Warren Christopher, has told members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in a written response that the two sales were issues that ''rested with the Bush administration'.' He refused to say if the Clinton administration would support the sales of the super-computer or jet engines to China.

A State Department official told the South China Morning Post that the issue of the two sales is ''just hanging there'' following the exit of the Bush administration.

Mr Bush's top White House aides who were leaning towards approving the sales had come under intense pressure in the past few weeks to reverse their position.

The Defence Department and the CIA had opposed the sales out of fear that Beijing would secretly divert the technology for military use although both the Commerce and State departments had supported the sales to promote Sino-United States ties.

Top officials from the departments involved remained deadlocked on the computer and jet engines sales after a series of meetings, leaving the final decision to Mr Bush in his last days as president.

But Mr Bush did not act on the matter, apparently because he wanted to avoid renewed accusations of cosying up to China's hardline leaders.

Mr Clinton is unlikely to give the matter immediate attention since his administration has yet to define a new China policy.